Friday, 24 June 2016

REMAINing hopeful

As I sit on the bus to work, I can't ignore the thick layer of grief in the air. The sun is shining, a time when Brits usually rejoice this rarity! Yet I see no smiles this morning, only fearful looks and confused eyes glued to the ground below.

At the moment, most of us may feel powerless. A huge change is afoot, a Farage-driven change that the majority of our country's people has voted for. It's incredible that a country who, on the majority, voted in our Prime Minister has gone completely against what he was pushing and towards the opposition's policy on the EU.

I can't stand the negativity - so this is my push for positivity.

My mentor Daisaku Ikeda, president of the lay Buddhist organisation Soka Gakkai International, says that "peace is an endless endeavour".

An endless endeavour to feel hope when you feel hopeless. An endless endeavour to encourage the person in front of you to smile when you're crying inside. An endless endeavour to have the courage to even believe that the world can change and that you are part of that change when it feels like everything around us in regressing to the dark ages.

I believe that we have a choice

We have a choice of what we want to feel in our hearts. We have a choice about how we speak to people today - will we impart hope and courage at school and work? Or will we join the scaremongers and drown in self-pity?

We have a choice

We can advance together with optimism and hope, united with our European friends around us, surely, regardless of a political vote. 

We have a choice. 

I truly believe in my heart that in order for the world to change, the 'nastiness' needs to be exposed. And this morning was part of that exposure. Things will inevitably be shaken up and uncomfortable before they change.

This morning I stumbled upon a publication called The New Humanism for World Peace published by the Institute of Oriental Philosophy, which describes the beginnings of Shakyamuni Buddha's seeking to understand the nature of the suffering world around him, in a time of great upheaval:
In a world so full of conflict, how should peace and co-existence be brought about? The impetus of Shakyamuni’s denouncing of his royal heritage and searching for the truth within his deeper consciousness came from the shock and fear he felt at the sight of violence [...] 
Shakyamuni’s meditation took him into the deepest sections of humanity’s consciousness, and first sought a peaceful world without the sufferings of conflict, sickness, birth and death, but in his broad quest found that such a blissful world does not exist anywhere. He then sought to find the answer to what makes people antagonistic towards one another. At that moment, he perceived that “the arrow of earthly desires” was embedded in the depths of humanity’s consciousness,
“Then I saw a barb here, hard to see, nestling in the heart."
“Affected by this barb, one runs in all directions. Having pulled that barb out, one does not run, nor sink.” 

In a 1993 speech at Harvard University, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda explains this further (in the same text):
“The following quote is illustrative: ‘I perceived a single, invisible arrow piercing the hearts of the people.’ The ‘arrow’ symbolizes a prejudicial mindset, an unreasoning emphasis on individual differences. India at that time was going through transition and upheaval. To Shakyamuni’s penetrating gaze, it was clear that the underlying cause of the conflict was attachment to distinctions, to ethnic, national, and other differences.”

How was he able to pull out the “arrow of earthly desires”? He became awakened to the great expanse of life, the inner cosmos, that exists in the depths of all people's lives. He deeply believed in his potential, and the potential of others, to also be awakened to his and pull out their arrow.

Everything in this blog is a representation of my beliefs and my beliefs only and in no way do I intend to represent the views of all Buddhists around the world.

For me personally, today's events urges me to deepen the Buddhist philosophy by which I live my life and encourages others to deepen their faith (religious or not) in whatever they believe in. It urges me to study history, to have the courage talk to friends and strangers about the fundamentals of life, to renew my vow that I will see a peaceful society - and do all I can to lay the foundations - in my lifetime.

For the sake of our children, their children and beyond, I believe that how we conduct ourselves from now on is vital. We will experience setbacks in life - and this is one of them - but life is long. 

What is YOUR vision of the future? And what role will YOU play in the endless endeavour to bring it to fruition?

Peace isn't easy. No-one ever said it was. Peace is hard work! So we've got work to do.